The Vikings have won five in a row since a 2-5 start, putting themselves in contention for a playoff spot. But that doesn't mean coach Mike Tice is satisfied with the way his team has been playing.
At his Monday press conference, a day after the Vikings' 21-16 victory at Detroit, Tice made it clear he does not consider his team to be approaching the elite level.
"No. No. No. No," Tice said for effect. "Not when you have minus-8 (tackles for losses as the Vikings offense did against the Lions). Eight TFLs in the game, I don't know how you can rank yourself as one of the better teams in the league."
While Tice has been pleased with the progress his offense has made as a whole, he expressed frustration following Sunday's victory with the play of the line. Lions defensive tackles Shaun Rogers and Dan Wilkinson caused problems for starting guards Anthony Herrera and Adam Goldberg, both of whom were benched at various points.
Chris Liwienski replaced Herrera for a portion of the first half and Goldberg for a portion of the second.
"I will say the offensive line played extremely hard," Tice said Monday. "It's just that sometimes the guys you line up across from are better than you are. I think that was the case some (Sunday). They had a couple guys that were better than our guys, and that happens sometimes."
Tice said he had not yet considered any type of permanent rotation that might involve Goldberg, Herrera and Liwienski.
Tice wasn't happy with the performance of the special teams. The unit, which has been a strength for much of the season, struggled for a second consecutive week in the return game.
The Lions' Eddie Drummond averaged 23 yards on punt returns and 22.7 yards on kick returns.
"We've come off two mediocre games on special teams," Tice said. "We need to make sure that we stay on track with our special teams, and then losing our punter this week brings one more problem into the mix that we have to solve by Sunday."
Vikings punter Chris Kluwe injured his right knee on Sunday and is expected to miss at least a week. The Vikings will audition some punters Tuesday. Darren Bennett, who was cut by the Vikings after a rough training camp, Nick Murphy and Leo Araguz are the leading candidates. Each has spent time with the Vikings.
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